In Lao culture we are taught to respect and honor our parents. This respect and honor are the good deeds returned to them for raising and nurturing us. It continues from when they are alive to when they are gone. When they leave us we give alms and offerings and in return ask for guidance and strength to heal our spirits. Even though it’s been seven years since my mother had passed on, the memories of her continue to guide me every day.
On days like Mother’s Day, I don’t just think of my own mother, but of the women in my life who have helped to shape who I am every day. My sister, my friends, my cousins, my aunts, and my roommate’s mother are patches that seal a wound in my heart from the loss of my mother. It shouldn’t just be on a day like today that these women feel special (but it is a stamp on our calendars that serves as a reminder to do something special for her if you have been slacking).
Mother’s Day does serve a purpose for me to reflect on how much I miss my mother, and to think what I’d do if she were still alive: I’d pick up the phone and call her back after I listened to her voicemail saying how she misses me and loves me in broken English; keep all the little notes she’d write me in my lunch bag, on a plate of prepared breakfast, or in the car; remember to fill up the gas after driving it all weekend so she’d have a full tank for the work week; go with her to her doctor’s appointments; do my chores without asking; drive her to go see relatives; help prepare dinners and clean up afterward; save the allowances she’d give me instead of buying Marvel superhero cards; ride with her, an hour before and an hour after, to and from school every day of the last two years of high school (I lived out-of-district, and did not have a car); and to show my thanks to her for all that she had done for me all over again.
As the youngest child, I saw more of my mom than my other siblings did. Because I was an unsuspecting kid, I was a good eavesdropper and always present. I knew many things and used it to my advantage. I knew what bothered my mom and I knew what made her happy. I avoided making her angry with me and always wanted to make her proud. After all, that was the best way I knew how to honor her and give my thanks. After her funeral, I wondered why couldn’t get myself to cry. I learned that in the moment I had found an inner strength she had given me, a voice that told me I would be ok and to move on.
I’m still moving on. So, it’s not just on Mother’s Day that I think of my mother, but it’s every day.